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In light of the referendum yesterday, I happened to be reading at bedtime, just after learning a majority in Scotland had voted to stay with the Brits (though with 1.6 million voting for independence),a book on Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England in the 17th century, and found this illuminating quote on the origins of the Scotish/English union from the author, Catherine Drinker Bowen:

“In (King)James’s first parliament of 1604, Bacon had sat for Ipswitch and St. Albans. Both Houses had chosen him as Commissioner in the King’s great cause of a proposed union between Scotland and England — a complex matter which was to take a century for its accomplishment. The commons were stubbornly jealous lest a wild and barren country encroach upon a prosperous one: they hated every Scotish courtier that James brought to England.”

400 years later, the irony is not that that it took a 100 year campaign to roll Scotland into the British Empire, but that the partnership has lasted so long. As nation/states around the world find themselves in a time of re-casting, as our political systems evolve and devolve, it should not be surprising that this old relationship between two disparate peoples is in the limelight. And the future of this odd pairing, based largely upon geographic adjacency, remains anything but certain.

In 1995, Vicki and I boarded the famed Cunnarder, the QEII (1969-2008) at the Port of New York and set sail on my 10-year sabbatical from McDonald’s for a crossing to England. Aboard was famed science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, then in his mid-70s, who died just yesterday. I’d ¬†always been a science fiction fan, having grown up glued to Flash Gordon (the original) on TV, so was delighted to have the opportunity to spend 2 hours with him in the theatre, and hear him talk about writing the Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451. He told great stories, as we all know. That classic ocean liner crossing, with its black-tie dinners in the Queen‘s Grill and long sunny afternoons looking out to sea, was a memorable experience for someone like me, who had grown up cruising on small boats on inland lakes with my family.

RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 in Trondheim 2008.jpg
August 2022

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